The power of a (new) story

Back when I took the Prof G Strategy Sprint with Section4, one of the things that stayed with me was just how powerful a great story is in shaping entire companies.

I was reminded the other day, when I had a meeting with a seasoned communications professional, where we talked about what great people with a background in communications have to offer a startup board of directors.

The answer is: More than you would think.

Because aside from offering advice and help out on the PR and communication strategy and associated activities, what they can also help do is reimagine the entire mission of the company.

Now, why would you ever want to do that, you may ask?

Simple, really.

When you start out you may have a rather narrow mission in mind. You’re pretty set on the problem, you’re looking to solve, and who you’re solving it for. If you’re good (and lucky) you will have an excellent North Star guiding the first part of your startup journey.

But what happens when you have got that first product in market, and you have started seeing some traction? Do you focus on doubling down and getting even better at delivering your value proposition to that particular client segment, or do you start looking for ways to expand your footprint into new segments?

If you decide on the latter, it will most often take reimagining the vision. If fx you’re a MedTech company looking to serve a particular niche of hospital clinics, you may wonder if you could go direct to consumer – or direct to patient as it would be in this case.

That would entail a new storytelling. A broader vision and mission that can still be tied down to the original purpose behind the company so as not to alienate anyone on the team in process.

Done right this re-crafting of mission or purpose, if you will, could unlock the journey towards new value propositions, new products, new revenues – and new highs for the startup.

And having someone close to the company – eg on the board or an advisory board – with deep experience within communication could be the ideal catalyst for that sort of transformation.


Time is (also) an investment

The other day I had the pleasure of meeting a mentee of mine, who is enrolled in DTUs board education.

The topic of our conversation?

“How do I qualify myself to go on boards of startups?”

The question is a good one. Because you need to bring something to the table in order to be relevant. Especially with the diverse needs and ever changing nature of a startup.

But then he followed up with an admission:

“I am not an investor.”


He is an investor. His capital? Experience, know-how – and time.

We often have a tendency to see money as the only type of investment. But I would argue that in an environment rich on capital at close to zero interest, there may be other types of investment that is worth just as much – sometimes perhaps even more.

Experience, know-how – and time.

After all, many of those who are offering their service to be on boards to help startups are people with years, perhaps even decades, of relevant experience. And depending on the need of the specific startup, they will be in a position to help the founders leapfrog their competition by getting sound advice and concrete action.

Because action is the only real differentiator. And this is where the investment of time comes into play. While giving advice may be good in itself, what makes the real difference is turning up your sleeves and get busy working alongside the team.

The right board members with the relevant experience can and should do this. And when they do they will be more than an investor;

They will have the potential to become an invaluable contributor.